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Why Not Convert Your Existing Fireplace to Gas?

Convert to a Gas Fireplace - Cincinnati OH - Chimney Care CompanyThe mere thought of converting a classic wood-burning fireplace to gas is borderline blasphemous to some fireplace purists. Still, this has been a common route for many homeowners in recent years. Mull over these facts about wood-burning fireplaces as you continue with your decision-making process:

  • Wood fires may warm your heart and soul, but they don’t actually heat your living space. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a traditional wood-burning fireplace draws in as much as 300 cubic feet per minute of heated room air for combustion, and then, with a crackle, straight up your chimney it goes.
  • Wood fires may expose you and everyone in your home to large quantities of toxic byproducts, including respiratory irritants, carcinogens and deadly carbon monoxide. The EPA warns of other health dangers, namely asthma, reproductive issues and birth defects.
  • Wood smoke is a large contributor to air pollution — so much so that some localities ban the use of all wood burning, both inside and out, when pollution reaches a specified level.
  • Your house is in danger should the creosote, a tarry byproduct of wood smoke, ignite inside your chimney. According to the CSIA, chimney fires are the cause of over 25,000 house fires in the U.S. each year, resulting in millions of dollars in property damage — as well as tragic loss of life.
  • Traditional fireplaces are high-maintenance and require a lot of your time and energy to operate.Some homeowners eventually give up on their wood-burning fireplaces altogether. Henceforth, it sits empty; the coziness it provided becomes a mere memory. Converting to gas can be an acceptable alternative since it allows you to regain much of the aforementioned coziness and, in some cases, the lost heat as well. Continue reading as we cover the three most popular options available to you, should you decide to go this route.

ARE YOU CONSIDERING A GAS LOG SET?

If you’re in the market for a realistic-looking wood-fire substitute at a budget friendly price ($100-$1,200 depending on the scope of the job), a vented gas log set will fit the bill quite nicely. The logs can simulate many different species of wood, and the flame and embers are pretty similar to their real-wood counterparts. They are convenient—no stacking, chopping or hauling wood is required. Some models even come with remote-controlled ignitions and adjustable flame controls, and none leave behind a mess. However, because gas logs have the same open combustion as wood, many of the same dangers and health hazards exist. The damper on your chimney must remain permanently open as the fire continually draws in your room’s air; some manufacturers even recommend keeping a window cracked during use of their vented gas logs. In addition to the obvious hazard of an open flame, older or defective vented log sets can circulate explosive gas into the air. Vented gas logs are an economical, convenient replacement for those of you who are looking for the ambiance of real-wood units without the cleanup hassles associated with them. Keep in mind, however, that they are practical only for their ambiance.

ARE YOU CONSIDERING A GAS INSERT?

These units are the most appealing and sensible solution for a wood-to-gas conversion, but they have a much higher price tag associated with them ($2,000-$4,000 depending on the scope of the job). Springing for a gas insert can provide you with a beautiful fireplace that incorporates all of the desirable features that their wood-burning counterparts lack. Unlike vented gas logs, inserts are actually more like heaters that operate at around 85% efficiency. They exhaust air to the outside, keeping byproducts out of your house and hourly operating costs to a few cents. As a natural gas product, they also add little in the line of outdoor pollution. Remote control operation adds another level of convenience. Their flames and glowing embers are every bit as mesmerizing as those of a wood fire. No electricity is required to run the majority of gas inserts, which is a huge plus in the event of a power outage; you’ll still be able to snuggle up with that special someone.

When you start to weigh the deciding factors — convenience, ecology, safety, health, efficiency and ambiance — converting your wood-burning fireplace to gas makes sense. The first step is to make peace with the past and your attachment to your wood-burning fireplace. It’s all down hill from there! Be sure to buy the correct-sized log set or insert for your specific space, as using a heater with greater heat output than recommended may be harmful to your health. Come by our showroom to start shopping today. We’re standing by to help you through the entire wood-to-gas conversion process.

By Jeff Keefer | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Direct Vent Gas vs. Vent Free Gas – What’s the Difference?

Direct Vent and Vent Free Fireplaces - Cincinnati OH - Chimney Saver SolutionsPeople have been enjoying the warmth of a crackling wood fire since long before they even had a fireplace in which to burn it. As wonderful as wood is, however, many have grown tired of the messy ash that is left behind. Needless to say, the love affair many have had with wood-burning fireplaces has burned out. Fortunately, there’s a relatively painless solution to this problem—converting from a wood-burning to a gas-burning fireplace. This conversion will likely provide you with more free time as well, as it will relieve you of your wood hauling, cutting, and stacking duties. No more wood-induced backaches for you!

Gas log sets come in two basic varieties, vented log sets and vent-free log sets. A vented gas log must be used in a regular fireplace, designed to burn a wood fire, and run with the damper fully open; vented log sets have the option of connecting to a manual on/off valve (which is lit with a match) or can be connected to a manual safety pilot or a millivolt pilot valve. Vent-free gas logs can be used in a regular fireplace or in approved vent-free firebox enclosures. Because they don’t require you to open a damper, more heat is sent directly into the room as opposed to up the chimney.

When shopping for a gas log set, there are several things to consider. Remember, good things are seldom cheap and cheap things are seldom good. A cheap price usually means something is missing or the set is of lower quality, whereas higher priced log sets have more detail to their logs and better burner systems, thereby producing a larger and more visually-appealing flame pattern. It is also important to get a log set that is properly sized to your fireplace. The log size you can use in your fireplace should meet the following minimum dimensions:

  • A front-opening dimensions of your fireplace should provide a minimum of 2”-6” on each side of the nominal log set size. Translation: if you’re planning to use a 24” log set, the front opening dimension of your fireplace should be at least 28”.
  • The rear dimensions of your fireplace should not be less than the nominal log set size. Translation: if you’re planning to use a 24” log set, the rear dimensions should be at least 24” wide.

No matter which option you choose, however, there are some important things to consider. Check with your local building and/or codes officials to determine the necessary permits, applicable fees, requirements, and restrictions. Remember to have all work involving the actual gas lines themselves done by a licensed professional. Purchase the manufacturer’s recommended log set/insert for your space. Always follow the manufacturer’s scheduled maintenance and inspection recommendations to ensure you get the most out of your investment. Keeping these considerations in mind will help to provide you with the best opportunity to rekindle the love you once had for your fireplace.

Here at Chimney Care Company, your family’s sense of security and safety is important to us, which is why we’ve spent the last 25 years installing, repairing, cleaning and maintaining the chimneys, fireplaces and dryer vents of our neighbors in Cincinnati, southwest Ohio and northern Kentucky. Whatever your fireplace, chimney or dryer vent needs, if you’re looking for high-quality, professional services from industry experts, you’ve come to the right place. To schedule an appointment, please give us a call. We appreciate your business and look forward to helping you keep your family safe and warm for years to come!

Take Care of Your Gas Fireplace and It Will Take Care of You

Gas Fireplace Maintenance - Cincinnati OH - Chimney Care CoMany homes have a gas fireplace. Unfortunately, homeowners generally don’t think about servicing them until something goes wrong, which is usually at the most inopportune time. Whether you take a few moments to check out some of the more obvious things yourself or schedule an appointment with a trusted fireplace service technician, both can save you a lot of frustration down the line.

Guidelines for Gas Fireplace Service 

As you may or may not know, there are several different types of gas fireplaces, and the guidelines for servicing each is somewhat different. If a model has what is known as a standing pilot—the pilot light stays on all the time—the most important regular service item is the pilot assembly. Some units have a pilot light that’s only on when the unit is in use, while others use electronic ignition to light the burner directly without using a pilot system at all; both of these won’t need servicing quite as often.

For the last few decades, all unvented gas fireplaces and inserts as well as gas log sets have been manufactured with an Oxygen Depletion Sensor (ODS) to ensure safe operation of the appliance; these sensors should be cleaned every year to keep the system from becoming more sensitive and/or causing nuisance shutdowns. If you are particularly handy—one capable of changing you own oil or the spark plugs in your car without breaking something—you should be able to handle this task; however, if you are the slightest bit apprehensive about handling anything dealing with gas, it’s best to leave this to a trained, experienced professional.

The goal is to clear out the accumulation of sediment in the tiny pilot opening. A can of compressed air can be used with the included straw to direct air toward the opening to clean it out. If you opt to do this yourself, remember to make sure the pilot is OFF. If the pilot assembly is at least five years old or if you live close to salt water, this method might not be as effective as it once was, leaving you needing to seek professional assistance anyway!

Gas Fireplace Cleaning Needs 

Unvented logs are designed to burn very cleanly; as such, if you notice any black sooty deposits on your logs, it is best to stop using them immediately to make sure your logs and/or burner are set up correctly. If you aren’t absolutely sure that everything is correct, please refrain from using your fireplace until you can have a professional technician evaluate the situation for you.

Other fireplace options and gas log sets need cleaning, too, but perhaps not as often depending on the frequency of their use. Vented gas logs should be cleaned regularly if there is any sooty buildup present; there are commercially available sprays on the market to assist with this task if you are comfortable doing so. If at any point you are unsure or the least bit apprehensive, it is best to err on the side of caution and contact a professional to handle the work on your behalf.

Direct vent gas fireplaces have fixed glass panels that will likely need annual cleaning to stay clear. If the glass is collecting a black residue (soot), the fireplace should be adjusted to remedy this issue. If the glass has a gray or white film, however, there is no need to worry; there are chemical compounds in the gas itself that produce the residue (this is completely normal). The use glass cleaners containing ammonia is a huge no-no. Water and a soft cloth will usually suffice as long as you make this is part of your regular cleaning routine; adding a little vinegar to the water may save you a little elbow grease. Tougher deposits may require special fireplace glass cleaner to ensure that the job is done properly. Don’t forget to dry your glass completely and check for streaks and fingerprints before re-installing the glass!

Here at Chimney Care Company, your family’s sense of security and safety is important to us—which is why we’ve spent the last 25 years installing, repairing, cleaning and maintaining the chimneys, fireplaces and dryer vents of our neighbors in Cincinnati, southwest Ohio and northern Kentucky. To schedule an appointment, please give us a call at 513-248-9600 or click here. We appreciate your business and look forward to helping you keep your family safe and warm for years to come!

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Chimney Care Company | 413 Wards Corner Road, Loveland, Ohio 45140